By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The Namibian police face a major crisis – part of their fleet of vehicles is not running owing to lack of fuel. Some regions in the country are more affected than others and are operating at a snail’s pace because of the shortage, which stems from the force’s failure to pay its fuel bill due to lack of funds. Police Chief Inspector Hieronymus Goraseb confirmed the news yesterday, conceding that some of the force’s activities have been disrupted by fuel shortages and that most police filling depots have run dry. New Era learned reliably that Nampol fuel depots are dry as a result of the force’s failure to settle its astronomical debt to fuel suppliers like Shell and Total. As a result, the bill has been accumulating over the months. Regions like Okavango and Caprivi have been without fuel for the past week. In Windhoek, the Nampol fuel depot in the Northern Industrial Area also ran out of fuel on Monday. Yesterday morning, there was little fuel left at the Wanaheda, Katutura and Windhoek charge offices. A source at the Namibian Police said some of the police stations have parked their vehicles because there is no fuel. “Police stations in the regions have been bombarding the head office with phone calls because their operations have come to a standstill,” said a source. He noted that investigations and arrests could not be effected in some instances. It is also reported that suspects who had to be transported to the different magistrates’ courts were left stranded at times. “The police officials cannot fill up their official duty cars with their money because the treasury regulations will not allow them to get a refund,” said a source. Goraseb noted that some police stations countrywide are affected. “The police usually experience this problem from time to time especially in March before the end of the financial year,” he said. Goraseb added that the Office of the Inspector General has been informed about the problem at some of the police stations and is busy addressing the matter. Although Goraseb did not deny that the problem was shortage of funds, he would also not confirm that. “Of course, the operations of some police stations have been affected but it is not yet a crisis and the problem will be solved soon,” he said. During the 2004/2005 financial year an amount of N$20 million was received from the contingency fund to address overspending, mainly on fuel, S&T for ministerial drivers and bodyguards, food for members at the borders and prisoners awaiting trial. In the main budget, N$85 million was allocated for crime prevention – providing visible policing through vehicle and foot patrols, combating the proliferation of illegal firearms and developing and implementing a National Crime Prevention Strategy and Community Policing. The current strength of the force stands at more than 11 000 men and women. Last year, the Minister of Safety and Security Peter Tsheehama told parliamentarians that unless his ministry’s budget was raised, police and prison operations could be disrupted.
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